KEEPERS’ LOCAL SUSTAINABILITY PROJECTCategory: 2015, Climate, Current, Grant, Major Project
Alberta Ecotrust is supporting the Society of High Prairie Regional Environmental Action Committee (REAC) and the Keepers of the Athabasca (Keepers) as they form partnerships with Fort McMurray First Nation and Beaver Lake Cree Nation in order to advance sustainable technologies in these two communities. Keepers’ LOCAL Sustainability Project involves two First Nation partners hosting “Save the Future” community meetings in order to determine the locations and types of two sustainable technologies by consensus. Keepers propose to provide one solar installation and one local food production installation in each of the partner communities. These two partners, the Fort McMurray First Nation, and the Beaver Lake Cree Nation came forward asking to work with Keepers after the successful completion of the Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation solar project, funded in part by the Alberta Ecotrust Foundation.
REAC and Keepers propose to help these two First Nations lead by example, and produce, through a consensus process, new infrastructure that will help them address climate change. Climate change is of grave concern to us all, and in particular to First Nations, as evidenced by the Treaty 6 Regional Indigenous Peoples and Nations Consultation on Climate Change which took place in Edmonton on September 8, 2015. Local food production helps mitigate climate change by decreasing the gasoline used in transporting produce. Locally produced vegetables are shown to be more nutritious, as they can be allowed to ripen fully before consumption. Solar energy production helps mitigate climate change by producing energy without emitting greenhouse gasses. After the Keepers’ successful solar installation at Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation, that Nation has decided to proceed with two new, self-financed solar installations. It is anticipated that when we engage with First Nations to provide information about sustainable technologies, which have a lot in common with Traditional philosophies and practices, the information is internalized and can be applied to other self-initiated projects afterwards.
With the initiation of the discussion on sustainable technologies, and in particular, how they apply to Traditional philosophies, Keepers of the Athabasca are getting the ball rolling. With the installation of specific renewable energy and local food production technologies, the individuals involved gain first-hand and hands-on experience. First Nations can then confidently choose to explore sustainable technologies; they will have the personnel and tools to access information, and can more fully implement these technologies with time.